New Volunteer Info

 

Things you need to get started

  • Find an opportunity that excites you by reviewing the Position Descriptions posted on the main volunteer page.  Make sure the responsibilities, qualifications and time commitment match your expectations.

  • Read Midewin's History and Mission

  • Before volunteering for the U.S. Forest Service, you must read, print and sign this Midewin Volunteer Paperwork. Send it to me early or bring it with you on your first day. The first page requires you to click the link to read Section One of the Job Hazard Analysis (JHA).  The next pages are the volunteer agreement and the photo release.  Please complete all four pages. 

  • Fill out this Volunteer Application and you will be contacted by the volunteer coordinator with more details on available opportunities and how to get started. 

 

FAQs

What volunteer opportunities are available?

What are the benefits of volunteering?

What are the requirements to be on the volunteer staff?

How can I get started?

I want to volunteer but I have a hectic schedule. What can I do?

I want to volunteer, but I have limited mobility. What can I do?

Do you have any volunteer opportunities on weekends?

What volunteer opportunities take place on weekdays?

Can I just show up at a general restoration volunteer day?

What do I bring to a volunteer day?

What do I wear for a volunteer day?

What if I cannot stay for the entire volunteer day?

Can I bring my kids with me to a volunteer day?

Can I bring my class/scout troop/business team/other group to Midewin for a volunteer day?

Can I bring my pets to a volunteer day?

Can I earn volunteer hours that are required by either school or community service?

Do you have any offsite or from-home volunteering positions?

Do you have housing available for volunteers?

What career opportunities or paid internships are available?

How do I get to Midewin?

Do you still have a question that was not covered above?

 

What volunteer opportunities are available?

Links to volunteer position descriptions are available for most positions on the main volunteer webpage.  You may be able to suggest a program or activity based on your own skills too.  If you are on the volunteer email list called the Meadowlark Messenger, you may also hear about some one-time opportunities or rare projects that come up.  For now, we have the following positions.   

Program Areas (positions) include:

  • Restoration (variety of seasonal work including planting, invasive control, seed harvest, seed broadcasting, etc.)
  • Ecological monitoring (birds, butterflies, frogs, rare plants, floristic quality, water quality, and RiverWatch)
  • Interpretation/Education/Outreach (tour guides, program leaders, youth educators, welcome center hosts, offsite events)
  • Trail Stewards

 

What are the benefits of volunteering?

  • You are part of a team supporting a very special mission for natural and cultural resources in the Prairie State. 
  • Volunteering is a fun recreational activity and can be very therapeutic.
  • Several activities are appropriate for families and individuals of all ages to work together.
  • Volunteers always learn new information and skills as well as sharing your own experience and knowledge.  
  • Volunteer work will boost your resume and may give you an edge over other candidates.
  • Midewin’s volunteer staff receives ongoing recognition from their supervisor and other staff.
  • Volunteers that meet certain criteria are invited to an annual volunteer recognition banquet in November.
  • Midewin’s volunteer staff receives the quarterly Prairie Telegraph newsletter. 
  • Volunteers may be featured in the Telegraph, newspaper articles and/or US Forest Service success stories.
  • Awards can be received for outstanding, innovative and/or long term, core volunteers.

 

What are the requirements to be on the volunteer staff?

Please refer to each position description of interest because requirements vary. Feel free to contact the volunteer coordinator, Allison Cisneros, at (815) 423-2149 or amcisneros@fs.fed.us to find a good fit for you.

 

 

How can I get started?

We encourage you to read various position descriptions to determine which programs may be the best match for you. Then complete the Volunteer Application Form above and the volunteer coordinator will contact you to further discuss options, details and availability of certain programs.

Before starting your first program or volunteer day you must read, sign and turn in the Midewin Volunteer Paperwork above.  

Some programs are seasonal, so you may have to wait until the following season to get started.  We also do reach capacity for certain programs, so you may either train as a substitute or wait until openings become available.    

 

I want to volunteer but I have a hectic schedule. What can I do?

General restoration volunteer days do not require a long-term or consistent commitment and you can sign up the day before. These are scheduled every Thursday, year-round from 9:00am-2:30pm with and option to leave at lunchtime.  

Ecological monitoring for birds, butterflies and frogs can also be done independently on your own schedule, as long as you are able to attend the season kickoff gathering before the season begins.  These are typically scheduled for an evening in March, April or May depending on the program.

 

I want to volunteer, but I have limited mobility. What can I do?

Certain activities such as seed cleaning, seed harvest and planting plug trays are recommended.  There are also occasional administrative activities such as folding trail maps, data entry or writing articles.  The heritage program is also looking for help conducting and transcribing recorded oral history interviews. Knowing accessibility needs ahead of time may give us a chance to make arrangements for other activities.

Please contact the volunteer coordinator, Allison Cisneros at (815) 423-2149 or amcisneros@fs.fed.us for more information.

 

Do you have any volunteer opportunities on weekends?

If you are only available on weekends, please look at descriptions for:

  • Restoration assistant for special Saturday events in April, May or September 
  • Interpreter (tour guide or welcome center host)
  • Ecological monitor (bird, butterfly, frog, RiverWatch or water quality)

 

What volunteer opportunities take place on weekdays?

If you are only available on weekdays, please look at position descriptions for:

  • Restoration assistant (every Thursday)
  • Interpreter (tour guide or youth educator)
  • Any ecological monitor opportunity
  • Trail steward 

Can I just show up at a general restoration volunteer day?

This is not recommended.  Knowing in advance how many volunteers will attend a volunteer day allows Midewin staff to better organize tools and safety gear. It is also important for us to be able to inform you of any changes or cancellations. 

 

What should I bring to a volunteer day?

If you are a new volunteer make sure to bring completed Volunteer Paperwork. 

Dress in layers with field boots.  For your own comfort, you may want to wear your own work gloves.  Please bring your own water bottle and lunch. Midewin will provide tools, safety gear, and drinking water.  We recommend bringing your own sunscreen and insect repellant.  Midewin will provide a first aid kit, however, if you have allergies, bring your own antihistamine or EpiPen.  A camera or binoculars are optional. 

 

What should I wear for a volunteer day?

Be aware of the weather forecast for this area. To see current conditions at Midewin, please visit our Weather Station. We recommend wearing layered clothing including long pants, long sleeves, field boots and a hat.  Dress comfortably and in clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.  For your own comfort, you may want to wear your own work gloves.  If there is no thunder, then volunteers occasionally continue working in light rain, so have a rain coat handy if you choose.

 

What if I cannot stay for the entire volunteer day?

Please let the volunteer coordinator know this ahead of time. Not all volunteer days take place at the meeting location, so volunteers will caravan to the worksite. Some volunteer days take place in locked areas and it is more difficult to accommodate different schedules. But, please do not hesitate to ask.

 

Can I bring my kids with me to a workday?

Yes, we encourage you to bring your children to a volunteer day. We do require that children under 16 years old be accompanied and supervised by an adult during the entire volunteer day. There may be activities with a minimum age requirement and if this is the case we will bring this to your attention and may invite you to participate in a more age-appropriate activity.

 

Can I bring my class/scout troop/business team/other group to Midewin for a volunteer day?

Yes, Midewin encourages your group to participate in a volunteer day any time of the year. Large groups may require at least a month notice for proper coordination. Depending on the size, age and nature of the group, not all volunteer days may be appropriate, so please contact the volunteer coordinator, Allison Cisneros, at (815) 423-2149 or amcisneros@fs.fed.us for more information.

 

Can I bring my pets to a volunteer day?

No, pets are not allowed to join volunteer days unless it is a service animal. However, you are welcome to walk your dog any other time on Midewin’s trails. You must keep a maximum 8-foot leash on your dog and stay on the trail.

 

Can I earn volunteer hours for community service that is required by either school or court?

If you need to fulfill community volunteer service hours, you are welcome to participate in any of Midewin's scheduled general restoration volunteer days.  These are scheduled every Thursday, year-round from 9:00am-2:30pm with and option to leave at lunchtime.  You must provide the volunteer coordinator with any required paperwork to verify you were present and earned service hours.  Please give plenty of notice in order to have the paperwork completed on time.  

 

Do you have any offsite or from-home volunteering positions?

Not at this time.

 

Do you have housing available for volunteers?

Not at this time.

For U.S. Forest Service opportunities that may provide housing (such as a campground host) please visit www.volunteer.gov/gov.

 

What career opportunities or paid internships are available?

For more information or to apply for federal employment please visit  http://www.usajobs.gov/.

Most college and highschool level seasonal internships start posting as early as January or February.  

Also consider that relevant volunteer work can boost your resume and may give you an edge over other candidates.

 

How do I get to Midewin?

Please verify the meeting location and see Directions.

 

Do you still have a question that was not covered above?

Please contact the volunteer coordinator, Allison Cisneros at (815) 423-2149 or amcisneros@fs.fed.us for more information.